March 10, 2015

It's My Birthday

Today is my 29th birthday and it's kind of surreal. Growing up, my mom made birthdays so special.  It's not that we necessarily did anything over-the-top extravagant (although she did fly up to Milwaukee when I lived there for school to surprise me the morning of my birthday, which was pretty amazing) but she just has a way of making the day extra special and because of that my birthday has always been a day I especially look forward to.  This year however, I wasn't really looking forward to today, I was actually kind of dreading it.  Overall I'm pretty happy with my life and feel really fortunate for all that I have and how much love surrounds me, but sometimes I feel like I should have more to show for 29 years of life, that's a long time!  I decided today I would share 29 things I am thankful for, because my life is a good one and I should acknowledge that more.

1.  Jesus & my salvation, without which I wouldn't have a list to be thankful for

2. My family, a severely close second

3. My boyfriend

4. Sushi & Mexican food

5. My health

6. God's unending love & patience with me, I never seem to run out of second chances

7. Deep hair conditioners

8.  Where I live, both America & South Carolina

9. DVR... and Bravo! for that matter

10. My job

11. Sunny 80 degree days

12.  My nephew

13. Learning to be better with my money

14. Books

15. Makeup, men, I feel for you on bad skin days

16. Cell phones, but more importantly text messaging

17. Pinterest, 90% of my dinners are thanks to you

18. Men and women who are far more brave than I am who willingly fight for our country

19.  Freedom

20. Matinee movie prices, because otherwise no thank you

21. Hair straighteners

22. Leggings

23. A house to live in

24. My education & the ability to go to school

25. Jimmy John's, Subway, Jersey Mike's, McAlister's, all sandwich places

26. Friends who love me

27. Being able to laugh at myself

28. To have had a really fun & exciting early 20s, but to be more grounded and settled now

29. My life & each new day. It's far from perfect, some days just plain suck and it's hard for me to find the good in them.  But then I have days like today where I see so clearly just how much I have to be grateful for and hope that I can think about the things in this list when I start to throw myself a pity party.

Here's to the last year in my 20s & hoping it's a great year and I'm the best version of myself yet!

I hope you all have a great Tuesday!

March 3, 2015

Loving Lately

I'm not a big splurger when it comes to purchases for myself; I really try to find great deals and even a $50 purchase can take me a bit of thinking about before taking the plunge.  My birthday is in March and I usually will use that as an excuse to buy myself something I've been wanting for a while, here are some things I'm currently loving.

1. Metallic Vans- These would look so cute with skinny jeans or leggings, I love them!

2.  YSL Oil Lip Tint-  These things are getting some major hype lately and sound exactly like something I'd love. They are an oil, so they are supposed to be very moisturizing, and if I like one thing, it's a moisturizing lip balm. They're pricey and slightly extravagant, but that's what birthdays are for!

3. Z by Zella Leggings-  I wear leggings 5 out of 7 days a week at least.  I've always heard such good things about this brand which is Nordstrom's own athletic brand. These are currently on sale at Nordstrom Rack online for only $12.90.

4. Longchamp Le Pliage-  I have debated for the past 2 years whether to ask for this for Christmas or to buy it myself.  This is such a classic bag that will never go out of style and would also be a great every day bag to tote around my laptop, Nook, and even my gym clothes for after work. I love the "red" and "bilberry" colors, they're a change nice from the black I usually gravitate towards, but would still match a lot.

5. Suede Toe Heels-  I have a wedding this June and think these would be perfect for a summer wedding! These are gorgeous!

6. Sunless Face Tanner-  I gave up tanning beds about 2 years ago and it's been a sad ride. I miss so bad being tan all year round, especially my face.  I've used body self tanners on my face before and they just clogged my pores and completely irritated my skin.  I love Clinique skincare and think this might be worth trying. 

7.  Brooks Running Shoes-  I have an older edition (is that how you refer to shoes?) of these shoes and they're my favorite, but have seen better days. I love lightweight running shoes that are slim and not too chunky. Also, I love how bright these are!

What are some things you have had on your wish list lately? Do you own any of these products and want to recommend them or something similar?

February 26, 2015

Living Room Pinspiration: A New Mini Series

It's that time of the year again, moving time. I've moved every year for the past 4 years.  I should be a professional mover, except I hate moving and would call out "sick" every day.  This year, however, I'll be moving in with my boyfriend and we are having to do the whole compromise thing on decor.  He's very traditional and simple, think brown leather sofa with matching coffee and end tables.  He'd prefer, probably like most men, to go to one store, pick out a completed room set with lots of dark colors and leather and call it a day.  I, on the other hand, gravitate towards eclectic rooms with light neutral colors, heavy on the metallics. I don't mind, and in fact love, revamping older pieces and keeping things from being too matchy matchy.

I thought it would be fun to share the experience with you all as we transition into the new house and essentially decorate and furnish it from the ground up.  He's had roommates the past 5 years and has been lucky enough to not need to purchase any furniture of his own (aside from his bedroom furniture).  We'll be using my living room and dining furniture initially, but will replace that hopefully sooner rather than later.  Through this mini series, I'll share with you photos and ideas I am keeping for inspiration as we find a happy medium somewhere between my taste and his.

I knew I was going to have to give a bit on the whole "white, cream, silver and gold" color palette I have going on currently at my apartment. I don't like buying things just to fill a space and since this will be a place we will hopefully be at for a long time, I really wanted to fill it with stuff we both really like.  I have been holding out on buying anything for the new house until I found that one piece we both liked and could use as the starting point around which the room would be decorated.  I was at Marshall's a few weeks ago and spotted this rug and immediately fell in love! The blue color is gorgeous and lucky for me, Leif liked it too!

My couch, that we will start out with, is a cream color, but eventually Leif wants to get a brown leather couch. I like the pillows in contrasting colors, but will probably opt for none of them to match yet be in the same color family. I also like the touches of white and silver, we'll probably do similarly.

Hopefully the rug will be the perfect size for our living room, it's a 5x7 and I'm aiming to put it under the coffee table, but in the event we don't like the look of it there, I like the look of patterned curtains in the same color. I also want to get a large mirror to sit above our fireplace. Our house is actually set in in almost the same way, with the fireplace on the far wall and windows on either side, so I also like the chair positioned by the window, I could read for hours there. 

I love the look of a gallery wall, but sometimes they can be too overwhelming for me visually.  I like the look of shelves to give some cohesiveness to everything while also allowing pieces to sit on them much in the same way a bookshelf would look. 

I love the rustic elements of this room; the lanterns on either side of the fireplace, the moss and cotton center piece, the books casually leaning on the back cabinet and the burlap and wire basket in from of the fireplace.  I think I could get a similar look with things from Michael's and HomeGoods.

What are some of your favorite (affordable!) home furnishings and decor stores?  I am so excited to get the project underway!

February 16, 2015

Window Shopping

If you've read any of my blog posts before, you'd know I love a bargain, and if you're new and haven't read any posts, I love a bargain. They're my drug of choice: bargains, sales, bogos, you name it, I love it! I can bring myself to splurge a little more when it comes to clothes and accessories, but with makeup, while I have a few higher priced items, if I can find a great product from Target or CVS, sign me up!

However, I do love browsing Sephora as much as the next girl, and can't help but to illogically want some all of the products. I'm a sucker for pretty packaging and it doesn't help that I watch YouTube beauty videos like it's my job in which the girls rave about lip liners that cost $30, seriously? Today I thought it would be fun to share with you the products I find myself wanting, but probably never buying.

1. YSL ROUGE VOLUPTÉ Silky Sensual Radiant Lipstick. That packaging is hands down the only reason I want this, I don't even wear lipstick.

2. Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb perfume.  The best smelling perfume I've ever smelled in my entire life, and at close to $100 a bottle, it better be. Still, I don't care how good you smell (how many times can I say smell?), I'm never buying a $100 bottle of perfume that doesn't come with Ryan Gosling spritzing me with it.

3.  Burrberry Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base-  I've actually read really good reviews for this, but $48 for foundation when I maybe wear foundation once a week? Not happening. Plus I can just imagine how ridiculous I would feel if someone asked what I was wearing and I had to say "Burberry", how fancy must I be! That packaging too though!

4.  Deborah Lippman nail polish- I know some of you are going to protest this one, but $20...for nail polish? Still, I can't help walking by the testers at Sephora and thinking she just does glitter right.... which coincidentally enough is also something I don't wear. Ever.

5. Dior Hydra Life Pro Youth Silk Creme- This, to me, is actually the most reasonable of my lust list, because I've really gotten into skin care over the past year.  I've tried it before on my hand and it really does feel amazing, but skincare is tricky because it takes some time for you to see results, if you ever do. It's $56, but if I knew it would work, I'd buy it all day long. 

6. Chanel Illusion D'Ombre Long Wear Eyeshadow- $36 for eyeshadow? Next...

7. YSL Babydoll Mascara-  A friend of mine has this and I've tried it a few times and it really makes my lashes look so long and fluttery. It's pretty wonderful, but again at $30, even though I do wear mascara daily, I just haven't been able to bring myself to buy it yet.

Are you a sucker for pretty packaging like me? What are some of the luxury items you find yourself wanting once you walk into the beauty black hole that is Sephora?

February 9, 2015

What I Read: The Good Girl

I have such mixed emotions about this book.  I've said before, I'm a pretty picky reader, it takes a lot for me to really fall in love with a book and become invested in its characters.  Truthfully, I usually don't give in a read a book until it has a pretty big fan base already or at the very least I've read tons of great reviews, i.e. Twilight, Harry Potter, Emily Giffin books (it's okay, call me a bandwagoner). I love reading and don't want to waste my time with books I have to force myself through, also paying for something I don't enjoy isn't fun.  But, back to the book at hand, The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica. I was searching for a solid 30 minutes for a new book to buy on my Nook when I came across this and immediately the synopsis hooked me. I downloaded the sample, and here we are 5 days later with the review, I could not put it down...

And then came the ending. If you've read the book you know what I mean.  The story is about Mia, a 25 year old girl who is kidnapped from a bar one evening by a guy named Colin.  Mia's family is fairly wealthy, as her dad is a very notable judge (and absent father) in Chicago and Colin is hired to kidnap Mia and deliver her to Dalmar (the man who hired Colin) where he will then hold her for ransom.  As I'm sure you can guess, things don't go exactly as planned and the story takes a different turn. The book switches point of view with each chapter being told through either Colin's, Gabe's (the detective working the case), or Eve's (Mia's mother) point of view. I loved that part, it was nice getting to really know the characters and how they felt and what they were thinking both before and after the incident occurred.

If you don't want any spoilers, and by spoilers I mean the big bomb they drop on you, don't read any further as I will be revealing all of what happened in the book and will instead leave you with this; all in all, I do recommend this book if suspenseful novels like Gone Girl are your thing.

So, the book ends with Mia (who hasn't yet discovered she's pregnant with Colin's baby) being found, Colin getting shot and killed by the police and Mia's dad facing charges of accepting bribes in exchange for less harsh sentences to those he's convicted. Mia suffers severe Stockholm Syndrome which to me was kind of unrelatable, but kind of not, I hope I'd never have those same feelings in that situation. At this point, I liked the book a lot; it was interesting and suspenseful and I found the relationship between Mia and Colin intriguing because I just can't imagine myself falling in love with someone who kidnapped me.  The last chapter is a flash forward to before the kidnapping took place and it's Mia presenting a plan to Dalmar in which she will stage her own kidnapping.  Never. Saw. It. Coming.

I love books like this, and Gone Girl, in which there is such a huge plot twist that catches you completely off guard and you never suspect.  My complaint, so to speak, is why stage your own kidnapping to get back at your father for being a lousy dad? After Mia was rescued she searched her fathers office and found the evidence of  his accepting bribes, why not try that route in the first place?  Also, he was an absent dad and wouldn't pay for your college unless it was for a degree he supported, I'll agree that sucks, but cry about it in your nice warm bed in the big fancy house you live it.  I'm not saying the dad wasn't a total jerk, because he was,but staging your own kidnapping is a little bizarre.  Also, if I knew that at any moment of any day I could be kidnapped as per the agreement I set up, I'd be sure to carry a few extra things around with me, a toothbrush for one.  Maybe wear multiple layers of clothing as it is Fall in Illinois and will be getting really cold, really quick.  I also think that once I had to go to the doctor for pneumonia (which she did) I'd tell Colin that jig was up and to call Dalmar so we can all have a laugh at how dumb of an idea this was in the first place.

Even though there were some things that irked me, I really did enjoy this book, and I'd still recommend it.  It wasn't so much that I hated Mia planning her own kidnapping as it was I just can't relate to wanting to get back so badly at my rich father who lost interest in me when I didn't want to become a lawyer that I'd eat canned stewed tomatoes for weeks on end and use scraps of towels and whatever else I could find for my period.  He's a prominent political figure, fake a drug habit or leak a sex tape like a "normal" (slightly kidding) person and hit him where it where it really hurts, public ridicule and embarrassment, threaten his job. Not that I've given this any real thought or anything...

What are some books you've read lately? Do you recommend any?

February 3, 2015

Valentine's Day Outfit Ideas

I've never been big into Valentine's Day, not because I'm bitter about the holiday, and it's truthfully a little surprising I'm not that into it, as I am a closet hopeless romantic. I just prefer to celebrate on a much smaller scale and feel it can get out of control really quick. My boyfriend and I may get each other something small and I'll usually cook something a little extra special for dinner.  One aspect I do look forward to is dressing for Valentine's Day, I love a good theme and will dress for almost any occasion.  Today I'm sharing a few fun Valentine's Day looks no matter what your plans are!

Dressed Up- This outfit is perfect for a night out with your Valentine. Add some black tights or knee high socks if it's chilly and you're all set!

Dress, $21.46.  I know shipping times can be a little longer with Chicnova so this is also an option and a dress I personally own and love; I wear it all the time!

Black booties, $83.30

Necklace, on sale $21.00

Casual Date-  In an outfit like this you could go pretty much anywhere and feel comfortable doing so while still looking polished.  And at $10, that sweater is a steal!

Sweater, $9.95

Skinny Jeans, $44.00

Shoes, on sale $41.00 (plus free shipping!)

Earrings, $48.00

Relaxing Night In-  Some of my most favorite nights are ones spent staying in all alone with some good food and a few beauty treatments.  Throw on some extra fun pajamas and show yourself some love!

Satin Pajamas, $29.95

Facial Polishing Mask, $3.99 My favorite scrub ever, read more about it here

Cozy Sparkly Socks, on sale $10.50

Out With the Girls-  Celebrate by wearing your girliest pieces and spending time with the girls you love most!

Sequin Kimono, $26.00

"Leather" Leggings, $34.95

Pink Flats, $44.99

Essie Style Hunter Nail Polish, $8.50

Happy Valentine's Day to you all!

January 30, 2015

What I Ate Today (& this week)

I am so interested in what people eat, it's kind of bizarre.  I nanny for three little girls and each day when I pick up two from school I always ask "What did you eat for lunch today?" I just love food. I love eating it, cooking it, watching shows on it, does that make me a foodie? Anyway, today I thought I'd share with you what I might eat on any given day.

Before diving right in, I wanted to say my style of "meal planning" is a little different,  here's how and why. Each Sunday I choose one thing to have each day for lunch and one thing to have each night for dinner, the same thing each day (or roughly the same thing, excluding the weekend) Why eat the same thing every day?  Living and alone and cooking for one lends itself very easily to being wasteful with food, something I can't stand! It's just throwing money away.  Most recipes are for anywhere from 4-8 servings and cooking dinner each night with leftovers in those amounts can cause my refrigerator to get out of control quick.  I also find that having some sort of consistency makes it easier for me to make healthy decisions and not be as tempted to snack on leftovers all night.  And lastly, most nights I work until 5:45/6, then head straight to the gym and wont be back home until 7.  I then have to shower and might not be able to begin cooking until 7:30, having precooked most of my meal in advance makes it much less stressful to pull together dinner when I get home later.

I know this style of "meal planning"/prep isn't going to work out for everyone, but it works really well for me and this is what I ate this week...

I usually don't switch it up too much during the week with breakfast, it's usually two packages of Quaker Instant Oatmeal Lower Sugar in the Maple & Brown Sugar variety. I know this could be healthier if I made the oatmeal myself, but this comes down to the convenience factor. I also always have a 1 liter bottle of water and aim to drink 3 a day. The flavored water is something new I picked up from Publix and it's really good!

I usually get hungry mid-morning and this week I decided on grapes, apples, a Mini Babybel cheese and my trusty bottle of water.

For lunches this week I made wraps and if you like spicy food and live near a Publix, you need to try the Boar's Head Chipotle Chicken Breast from the deli, it's so good! I used a cheddar and jalapeno wrap with garlic hummus spread, lettuce, red onion, chicken breast and light sharp white cheddar cheese.  I added a side of carrots and Publix brand chili lime hummus and started my second liter of water for the day.

After I pick the girls up from school we have a little snack and this week to satisfy more so my sweet tooth than hunger, because man these things are small, I choose Fiber One's new mint chocolate chip brownie bars.  Again, not the healthiest or most filling, but it was good!

This week for dinners, I made crock pot shredded buffalo chicken, from this recipe.  For dinner I like to make something that I can eat a few different ways just in case I get bored of it by mid-week, I usually don't, but just in case. Tonight I topped some whole wheat pasta with the chicken and it was so good!  Earlier in the week I had this chicken over brown rice with a side of green beans and I also made a grilled buffalo chicken sandwich with whole wheat bread and cheddar cheese the following night, both were delicious!

I hope you liked this peek into my meals of the day, let me know what some of your favorite healthy meals are!